Email is an online marketing tool that has the potential to reach a huge number of people who are interested in your products or services.
And while it is possibly one of the oldest (well, let’s call it: “most well established”) methods of outreach, research continues to show that it can be very effective when it’s used properly.
Of course, blasting out emails to anyone and everyone can’t exactly be referred to as “effective.” That kind of behavior is the kind of thing that gave email marketing a bad name in the first place.
There are, however, some simple principles you can use to reach more people, increase the open rate, and find more success.
1. Make a Specific Offer
In an article on Marketing Experiments, there’s a great quote that really sums up our goal with every email, and that is:
“Specificity converts. In marketing, there should be no such thing as a general message. The marketer communicates with an aim. This aim should dictate everything else we say. This aim should influence, even constrain, every word we say.”
If your email is just a generic reminder that you exist, chances are it will be 100% successful… at reminding people that you exist… and also that you like to send them useless emails.
You can improve your conversion rates with specificity.
Your subject line should be specific about what they will get for opening the email, then the content should be specific about what you are offering.
Just remember that you’re not trying to sell the product or service with this email. You need to let your website do that.
Your offer, then, simply needs to be specific enough to give them a reason to click over to your website.
2. Make a Specific Offer in the Right Way to the Right Audience
You’re clear and specific about what you offer, but that alone doesn’t mean people are going to rush to click your call to action.
Especially if what you offer has no connection to the person receiving the email.
You can be completely specific, you can have the greatest offer, but it won’t have much impact with the wrong audience.
Or if you present it in the wrong way.
A real estate marketing campaign, for example, will have to consider both buyers and sellers. It should be able to provide information at the right time about the right neighborhoods and homes in the right places. Weekly emails would likely be overkill and would have a better chance of annoying, rather than enticing, potential customers.
On the other hand, if you’re running an email campaign for an ecommerce store, you may want to up the number of emails because your customers will want to have the insider information on the best deals or new projects.
You can instantly reach a huge audience through an email campaign, you just have to clearly define that audience and determine what approach will give the recipients a reason to click.
3. Communicate Like You Would on Social Media
When you treat your emails like a flier that gets shoved into every mailbox on the street, the owners of said mailboxes are going to treat them the same… and throw them away.
We do tend to think of email as advertisements and announcements, and while that’s not exactly a bad thing, it isn’t the most effective way to reach out to your customers.
Think of it like social media. If you treated ever social media posts like an advertisement, you’d very quickly lose those followers, too.
So, let’s think of email as another way to be social. That’s what email is supposed to be, isn’t it? A way to stay connected with friends and family?
Take a look at this example (from Marketing Experiments again) to see one example of how writing like a human would write to another human “absolutely crushed” the performance of their traditional emails.
4. Don’t Expect to Always Get It Right the First Time
Don’t expect perfection from your very first email. You can do really well with your first email – assuming you’ve started your campaign on the right foot – but it’s going to take some work, some tests, and some re-working to really grab all the potential here.
Email marketing is like every other element of online marketing, meaning you need to rely on analytics rather than assumptions.
You may be surprised what the numbers show you.
For example, you may have seen some numbers before that are all about “the best time to send emails” or the “best days of the week to send emails” or “how many times a months you should send emails.”
There have already been several studies to determine when the best times are to send an email. Some of them are also quick to point out that there’s no one right answer here, and that different people open email and different times.
A lawyer for example, could be more likely to open emails between 10 am and 2 pm, while a nurse may open emails anywhere between 10 in the morning and 10 at night.
The point is, all this research is a great place to get started planning your strategies, but until you start gathering your own data on your own target audience, a generality is all it will be.
You can do a lot more with specifics than you can generalities.
And while you won’t have all the specifics on your first email blast, you can watch and record and consistently develop the campaign to do a little better with each send.
5. Make the Value Very Clear
From the subject line to the content and images, you need to make sure you’re connecting the value you offer to the reader.
In the SEO world, we often talk about how you only have a few seconds to capture your customers attention once they land on your home page.
With email, the same urgency applies, but in a different way.
When someone arrives on your website, it’s safe to assume that they at least had some kind of interest in your products/services/content because they actively searched for and clicked on your site.
When someone opens an email, they are expecting you to prove your worth pretty fast because you came to them. They didn’t come to you.
They’re not looking to see if you have what they want. They’re looking for a reason to delete your email.
If the value of opening the email and clicking the CTA is clear, you’ll have a much better chance of converting a casual reader to a serious customer.
6. Don’t Ask for Much, But Be Clear What You’re Asking For
An email with a call to action in the range of “subscribe now for $10 a month” isn’t likely to get much traction.
Don’t try to sell anything with your email except a click.
That means selling them on the value on the other side of that click.
If you’ve connected with them, and spoken to them as a real person, this shouldn’t be too hard to do.
At the same time, you don’t really need to beat around the bush. You can be clear about the fact that you are selling something.
People tend to be more open to directness. If they feel that you’re trying to be sneaky about the sale, they’ll probably just hit that delete button.
Building Relationships with Email
No one wants to jump into a committed relationship from the very first handshake. We tend to want to explore the possibilities a little more before taking anything to the next level.
When you build an effective email campaign, you can, in essence, get your potential customers to look you in the eye and give them a firm handshake. They may not respond immediately, but this is an important first step in any relationship.
The next step is to follow through using the above guidelines. If you keep at it, email marketing could be a powerful weapon in your online marketing arsenal.